The Jewels of Hvar Town: A Guide to the Paklinski, Pakleni Islands

Total Croatia News

Romulic & Stojcic

Romulic & Stojcic

September 12, 2020 – Have you ever visited Paradise? Take a tour with a closer look at the Pakleni Islands which lie invitingly in front of Hvar Town. 

The debates start with the name. Is it Paklinski or can you call them the Pakleni Islands? 

Do they translate as Hellish Islands (in which case, I wonder what real Hell looks like…) or do they take their name from the archaic word ‘paklina’, which means ‘tar’ and refers to the pine resin which was used to coat ships?

And the biggest debate of them all – which is the best of the Pakleni Islands? 


As if Hvar Town did not have enough of its own – a stunning Venetian town, the oldest public theatre in Europe, the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe, the imposing Spanish Fortress, and a whole host of treasures in its alleys and main square, Croatia’s most famous island town is also blessed with 16 magical islands located in front of its impressive elite waterfront, waiting for visitors to discover. The Pakleni Islands are a natural extension of the town itself and an essential part of any Hvar visit. Several are easily accessible to regular and affordable water taxis. But while some of the 16 Pakleni Islands are bigger than others, they more or less look the same. Are they? Absolutely not!

Here’s a closer look at one of the most idyllic parts of the Adriatic Sea – which island will be your first choice on your next visit?

Sveti Klement (Palmizana)

The combined area of the 16 islands is 7.16 km2, most of which (5.27 km2) is located on the biggest island of them all, Sveti Klement. Also known as Veli Otok (Big Island) and Palmizana by some, Sveti Klement is the most popular destination, with plenty of diverse – and unusual – attractions on offer. 


It was here in a southern bay called Vinogradisce (but more commonly referred to as Palmizana) where tourism began back in 1906, when local landowner Eugen Meneghello opened his villa to tourists. More than 100 years later, the Meneghello name has become synonymous with high-quality Hvar tourism, a relaxed shelter from the paparazzi for many A-list celebrities, as well as one of the most interesting places to visit on the Adriatic. Today, Dagmar Meneghello continues the tourism tradition started by her grandfather-in-law, and she has dedicated more than half a century of life to build one of the Adriatic’s most inspiring places. In addition to her Meneghellos restaurant and luxury accommodation, and nearby Toto’s run by her son Djenko, the Meneghello complex is a place of high culture, which its own art gallery, rich cultural programme, even an arboretum. A natural paradise where turtles and peacocks room. 


Vinogradisce is a spectacular bay and the best place to head to for restaurant choice. From fashionable Zori’s in the centre – one of Hvar’s top wedding locations – to more rustic fare among the impressive olive trees at Bacchus, to Laganini – cocktail bar turned top fish restaurant under the innovative culinary creations of Hrvoje Zirojevic. So good in fact, that U2’s Bono shared his appreciation of a 10-course extravaganza on the official U2 page before returning the following year. 


Tourism actually began on Sveti Klement almost 2,000 years before, as one can discover on a visit to Vlaka (Vloka, say the locals) on the island’s northern shore, also accessible by regular water taxi in season. For here, in this tiny hamlet with the only full-time Pakleni resident, one can find the remains of a Roman villa rustica, as well as a bay which still has some of the healing mud which made it so attractive. It is also home to Dioniz,a slow-food rustic experience which many locals will tell you is the best in the area. Wine lover? Meet the lowest vineyard in Croatia, just 1m above sea level, which was until recently the grape source for the popular Andro Tomic Sveti Klement white wine. 

Sveti Klement is also a haven for sailors, being home to the main ACI marina for Hvar (there is another in Vrboska). The marina is the connecting point for the water taxis to the restaurants on the southern side, a very pleasant 200 metre walk through the pine trees until you are presented with your choice of paths to each of the five restaurants. 

Marinkovac (Stipanska)


(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

The second biggest island also suffers from something of an identity crisis, with perhaps the majority of its visitors not even knowing the island’s name. That is because the island of Marinkovac is better known for some of the Adriatic’s most high-profile nightlife, which takes place in the bay of Stipanska, home of Carpe Diem Beach. Carpe Diem, which has been one of the main brands of Hvar since its arrival 20 years ago, operates a bar on the Hvar riva, as well as a popular beach club by day and one of the Adriatic’s hottest nightspots after dark.

And yet… Head to the other side of the island by water taxi to idyllic bays such as Zdrilca and Mlini, and experience a tranquillity and slow-paced Dalmatian lifestyle and excellent local cuisine in top restaurants such as Tri Grede and Patak. 



Much smaller, as well as one of the closest by water taxi, is the island of Jerolim, a naturist and chill paradise. Such a paradise, in fact, that it was named by CNN as the world’s number one naturist beach back in 2011. The island is not just for naturists, however, but for those who just want to chill. It also has a reputation for being gay-friendly. One of the most relaxing spots on the Pakleni Islands is at Mare’s Place, on the other side of the island. From the water taxi, head to the left of the restaurant there and walk through the woods for less than 100 metres – the thinnest point of the island. Here is magical Kordovon Bay, sometime photoshoot location for the likes of Vogue Magazine, but always overseen by wonderful hostess Mare. One of my personal favourite spots in Dalmatia. 



The closest island to Hvar Town is Galesnik, a divine spot which also has a most romantic story about donkeys. As with all but  one of the Pakleni Islands, Galesnik is uninhabited by humans, but until a few years ago, it had rather a famous resident – a donkey named Mercedes. Although I never actually met Mercedes, she starred on the cover of my book, Lavender, Dormice and a Donkey Named Mercedes – An Expat Decade on Hvar. For years, Mercedes was the only permanent resident of Galesnik, and she was partial to the odd rakija from the local restaurant. But life was very solitary until one day about 6 years ago, an Englishman decided to answer his girlfriend’s concern that donkeys are not meant to live alone by buying a male donkey companion and transporting it to Galesnik for a new life with Mercedes. All was well for a short while, but the new company seemed to wear out poor Mercedes, and she is sadly no more. 


Donkeys aside, Galesnik has an excellent eco-ethno restaurant in the low-level stone building facing the town – one of the very best views, especially when combined with the excellent food. The building has previously been used as an arsenal and quarantine station, and its latest use is definitely an upgrade. To book the restaurant and arrange transport to Galesnik, ask at the Port Authority on the riva close to where the catamaran comes in. 


Pokonii Dol

While most tourists head to the Pakleni Islands for their beach time, there is an exception – the easternmost island of them all, Pokonji Dol. One of the most photographed things on Hvar due to its picturesque lighthouse in the middle of the small islet, the island lies in front of one of Hvar Town’s most popular beach spots, a bay of the same name. The lighthouse, built in 1872, has played an important role in guiding shipping through the islands since its construction, but it was powerless to stop a luxury yacht which ran aground a couple of metres from the beach a few years ago. Take a look


(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

There are 16 islands in all, and we have covered the five most important ones above. It would not be correct to reveal all the secrets, as then there would be nothing to discover. The Pakleni Islands are a sailing and kayaking paradise if the water-taxi or speedboat transfer option is not for you. Nice little tours such as the half-day sailing and kayaking sunset tours.

Some people call them the Hellish Islands. I can’t think of many better versions of Paradise.  


(Photo credit Romulic & Stojcic)

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